They helped raise two hundred thousand pounds for a leading wildlife charity in the process.
Schoolchildren from Derbyshire together with leading wildlife charity Born Free, founded by actress Virginia McKenna, have raised a staggering £200,000, whilst setting the Official World Record for the longest ever auction at 24 hours.
Auction gifts for the event, which took place from 21st- 22nd June at Holme Hall in Bakewell, were pledged from a host of international and national celebrities, including a signed guitar from Queen star Brian May, a one-off Moorcroft vase donated by Joanna Lumley - and more.
School children from S. Anselm’s Preparatory School in Bakewell helped to support the Born Free project, which works to protect threatened species in the wild - including eight and nine-year-old brothers Toby and Oliver Longden from S. Anselm’s School in Bakewell, who took up the challenge of completing an Olympic distance triathlon over three consecutive days, completing a 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run.
Collectively, the children from the School raised almost £15,000 in sponsorship money for the charity.
The event culminated in a magical African themed garden party, hosted by founder Virginia McKenna, on the stunning grounds of the 17th century estate during which the children showcased a stunning procession with a mesmerising elephant puppet from the stage production of The Lion King, alongside African dancers and drummers.
Virginia McKenna was visibly moved by the children’s superb performance of drums and songs from their school play, 'The Lion King Jr'.
In a moving and emotional speech she emphasised the great faith she has in the children of the future, who will continue their worldwide campaign to save animals, stop suffering, rescue individuals and protect rare species; referring to those attending as ‘the conservation ambassadors of S. Anselm’s’.
BBC presenter James Lewis, well known for appearing on Flog It! headed up the auction, having worked closely with the Born Free charity for decades, driven by his passion for preserving animals for the future generations to come.
James commented: “I’m so incredibly proud to have been involved in this event: to not only break an official world record for the longest auction, but to also raise £200,000 for such an amazing cause and in doing so work with some of the most inspiring and committed members of the next generation.
“The commitment and positivity displayed by the children in the run up to the event and indeed during the auction itself has been astonishing.
“Their passion, and understanding of conservation as a result of this project is fantastic; because whilst we’ve raised so much money for Born Free, even more importantly it’s been about inspiring the children to think about the planet first. This is the vision I’ve had from the beginning.
“Their excitement, commitment and success in their fundraising has been something to behold. I feel privileged to have worked alongside such a great group of selfless, model global citizens.
“The work that Born Free do to preserve and protect wildlife is so important, and this donation - believed to be the most that Born Free has ever raised from a single event - will make a significant difference to their ongoing work to help wildlife all over the world.”
Lisa Donnelly, Acting Head for S. Anselm’s School added: “This project has captured the hearts of our pupils and it’s lovely to see. We ensured wildlife conservation remained a prominent theme throughout our assemblies and extra-curricular activities and I’m delighted that the School has been able to make a difference in such a significant way.”
On the back of this event, Born Free plan to roll out a national programme of engagement to educate children in schools about the challenges currently facing wildlife conservation on a global scale.